Good Grief

One too-cute Associated Press reporter, writing about the American Illiteracy Council’s advocacy of “simplified spelling” or “moron-o-speak,” thinks the balanced approach to the story requires writing every other paragraph in the absurd and improper style.

Take this brief section, for example:

Those in favor of simplified spelling say children would learn faster and illiteracy rates would drop. Opponents say a new system would make spelling even more confusing.

Eether [sic] wae [sic], the consept [sic] has yet to capcher [sic] th [sic] publix [sic] imajinaeshun [sic].

Shucks, I wonder why. My imagination tends not to be captured by people who have lost the capacity to communicate clearly and to spell simple words.

Buried halfway into the story is the most important point in this silly non-debate:

But education professor Donald Bear said to simplify spelling would probably make it more difficult because words get meaning from their prefixes, suffixes and roots.

“Students come to understand how meaning is preserved in the way words are spelled,” said Bear, director of the E.L. Cord Foundation Center for Learning and Literacy at the University of Nevada, Reno.

Get it, American Illiteracy Council? Maybe you need to slow down, read it again, and find some help sounding out the longer words – like understand and Foundation.

I rarely agree with the teachers union, but we both happen to be on the same (and sane) side of the issue:

Michael Marks, a member of the National Education Association’s executive committee, said learning would be disrupted if children had to switch to a different spelling system. “It may be more trouble than it’s worth,” said Marks, a debate and theater teacher at Hattiesburg High School in Mississippi.

While the NEA’s justification is weak and happens to amount to the lazy, “it would be too hard to change” approach, I welcome their unfavorable opinion of one of the weirdest ideas to float inanely into the public sphere in recent decades.

One final clear and simple admonition for the American Illiteracy Council:

Learn. To. Spell. (Or get a dictionary.) Good grief.

Leave a Reply